How Izumi Suzuki Broke Science Fiction’s Boys’ Club


Terminal boredom

This week we look back on the work of the late Izumi Suzuki, the countercultural icon and sci-fi legend, who from the 1960s revolutionised the male-dominated genre of science fiction in Japan. 'Suzuki's uncompromising, though often darkly humorous, stories represent a kind of SF version of kitchen-sink realism, told from the perspective of the one stuck doing the dishes,' writes Daniel Joseph, and 'while a contemporary mode of feminism may not be overtly apparent in her work, Suzuki often spoke out against the unrealistic feminine ideals imposed upon women by male SF authors in the form of beautiful, cookie-cutter female characters'.

If her writings became so influential for following generations, it is also perhaps because they are anchored in a dystopic understanding of the present. In 1977's 'Forgotten', advanced technology provides a means for the protagonist Emma to feed her drug addiction and suspicions of her lover's infidelity; and in 1984's 'Terminal Boredom', neuroscience is deployed to opiate a society rife with unemployment and apathy. 'There is something wrong with our present society,' Suzuki once wrote, 'and I can't stand SF written by people who don't understand that.'

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